Columbus is the hidden gem of the Midwest. Whenever I am away from home and have to introduce myself, explaining where I’m from, I am often met with a blank stare as if to ask “where is that?” Better yet, “no way you’re from Columbus” or my favorite, “you have too much style to be from Ohio”.

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But, what if I told you that Columbus is rich in architecture and art, considered the fashion capital of the Midwest or that our food culture is like no other? Columbus will leave you awestruck as you journey from the Short North to Downtown, stroll through Franklin Park Conservatory  or shop your way around Easton, commonly referred as the Rodeo Drive of the Midwest. Although I was born in Columbus, I did not discover this city until after I graduated college and moved back home, leaving me overwhelmed at the beauty that it holds.

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Columbus serves as home to fashion retail giant Limited Brands and headquarters for Victoria Secret, Abercrombie and Fitch, and JackThreads to name a few. The entrepreneurship and creative spirits are well and alive in Columbus as can be observed in the Short North area, home to over 60 independent boutiques and restaurants. The Short North area is no stranger to culture. Gallery Hop, a popular arts event hosted on the first Saturday of every month, brings out a ton of people from all over central Ohio.  Street performers, artists and pop-up shops flood the sidewalks while art galleries stay open late and boutiques set up temporary exhibits. Before leaving the Short North, the main destination is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.  One of the most creative ice cream shops of its kind, Jeni’s is a favorite amongst my friends.

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Downtown Columbus is an aesthetic paradise. The architecture that adorns the street from the state house to COSI (Center for Science and Industry) is breathtaking and reminiscent of ancient Greece.  COSI, one of the biggest science centers in the US, is the ultimate destination for science lovers and innovative minded people. My absolute favorite thing to do around downtown is taking a walk along the Scioto Mile. The Scioto Mile wraps around the Scioto Riverfront right in the middle of downtown and the sight, and is especially gorgeous at night. Whether you’re walking the mile or riding one of the COGO rental bikes that line the streets, you can not help but marvel at the sights from the huge water fountains of the bicentennial park or the lights that illuminate the bridges. You could even plan a romantic evening on the mile by starting with dinner at Milestone 229.

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 Don’t be afraid to take a trip in your own backyard. You’ll be surprised what you can find.

This story was curated by Nneji Akunne


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